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Taxi

By Donald Liebenson

Hail, Taxi. It's great to finally have one of the defining sitcoms of the Super70s available on DVD to take out for a spin. This character-driven humane comedy from the creators of The Mary Tyler Moore Show rolled out of the garage with a full tank of gas: a lightning-in-a-bottle ensemble, smart, witty, and compassionate writing, and extraordinary characters.

The Sunshine Cab Company was a much grittier workplace than the sunny WJM newsroom. Its down, but never out employees--single mother Elaine (Marilu Henner), aspiring actor Bobby (Jeff Conaway), hapless boxer Tony (Tony Danza), reptilian dispatcher Louis (Danny DeVito), naive rube John (Randall Carver), and indeterminately foreign mechanic Latka (comic iconoclast Andy Kaufman)--struggled to keep rolling along. Judd Hirsch's salt-of-the-earth cabbie Alex Rieger solved everyone's problems but his own.

Half hours don't get more moving than the Humanitas Prize-winning episode, "Blind Date," in which Alex tries to befriend an embittered overweight woman, or funnier than "High School Reunion," in which Bobby impersonates Louie at Louie's reunion to impress his mean former classmates.

Some comedians talk about killing the audience. Andy Kaufman wanted audiences to kill him. Mechanic Latkas Gravas, the role he played on Taxi, brought Kaufman the mainstream commercial success he so disdained. Latka was an outgrowth of the Foreign Man character with which Kaufman befuddled audiences early in his career. The "cute little foreigner" (as he derisively calls himself in "Latka the Playboy," the must-own episode included on Volume 2) is seen to good advantage in two episodes from Taxi's first season.

In the poignant "Paper Marriage," Latka faces deportation unless he gets married. The cabbies hire a Times Square hooker to be his bride. This landmark episode marks the first appearance of Christopher Lloyd's Reverend Jim, a derelict who performs the bogus ceremony and, surprisingly, rises to the occasion ("Bet you all thought I was gonna screw up"). Lloyd joined what was already one of TV's best ensembles the next season. In "Mama Gravas," immigrant Latka is visited by his mother, a buxom, earthy beauty who takes a liking to Alex. Though Alex tries to resist her ("She was like an animal. A great one"), the two make "nik nik." When Latka learns of the affair, he insists he and Alex can no longer be friends. Taxi fans will hail this video. These are not just good Latka episodes. They rank among the best of the series.

Along for the ride in this Emmy-winning first season are a pre-Magnum Tom Selleck and Mandy Patinkin ("Memories of Cab 804") and life force Ruth Gordon, who was honored with an Emmy for her performance as one of Alex's most memorable fares ("Sugar Mama"). The poignant episode "Paper Marriage" features Christopher Lloyd as burn-out Reverend Jim, who would join the ensemble in season 2. This is "must-own" television fare.

Taxi on DVD!
Taxi is now available on DVD! Get it at Amazon.com!
Season One, Season Two, Season Three

 

Share Your Memories In Our Forums!

Check out our Taxi forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Taxi viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

It's hard to pick only one favorite episode. Among those I like the best are "Jim's Mario's," "Alex Goes Off The Wagon," "Elaine's Secret Admirer " and the two-part "Shut it Down."

--Cab 804

Note: This is just a random sample of the Taxi messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: September 12, 1978 - July 27, 1983

Cast: Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Andy Kaufaman, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Randal Carver, Christopher Lloyd, Carol Kane

Network: ABC (NBC from September 1982)

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song: Angela by Bob James

Image courtesy of ABC (NBC from September 1982)


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Danny DeVito Videos and DVDs!

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Copyright 1994-2017, Super70s.com. All Rights Reserved.
Use of this site is subject to our Terms of Service.
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Review copyright Amazon.com and used by permission.